Girls track and field: Huntley senior Sophie Amin returns from ugly injury

Huntley's Sophie Amin hits the hurdle as she is chased by Prairie Ridge's Rylee Lydon in the 100 meter hurdles Friday, May 10, 2023, during the IHSA Class 3A Huntley Girls Track and Field Sectional at Huntley High School.

HUNTLEY – Huntley senior Vicky Evtimov picked up Sophie Amin, her track and field teammate and best friend, and drove her to Mount Prospect a few times each week last summer for speed and agility work.

The two train with Brandon Stryganek at TNT, a facility owned by Tom Nelson where many high-level high school and college athletes work out.

Last summer was different for Evtimov and Amin. Evtimov went through her usual drills in the heat, while Amin was relegated to spectator. On May 10, Amin suffered a gruesome injury to her left leg, dislocating her ankle, at the Class 3A Huntley Sectional Meet.

Amin spent most of the summer on crutches and either in a cast or wearing a stability boot while her tendons and ligaments repaired themselves. She watched on May 20 and 21 as her teammates won the Class 3A team state championship, the first in area track and field history for boys or girls.

Amin said it stunk. Actually, she used a different verb.

“I couldn’t help in any way, just watching all the races,” Amin said. “It was much more stressful to watch them than to be in them. It (stunk) to watch. It was great to watch because I’ve never been just like watching a meet of that scale, but it did (stink).”

Huntley's Sophie Amin

Eight-plus months, and countless hours of rehabilitation and training later, Amin is back, as good as new and even faster than before. She attacked her recovery with a vengeance and earlier this month at the Huntley Indoor Invitational, she ran 9.24 in the 60-meter high hurdles, .04 faster than what she ran a year previous.

Amin also recently signed with NCAA Division I South Dakota, where she will run track next year.

“I was very ambitious,” Amin said. “I was very lucky with my recovery process. I didn’t know if I would even be running by indoor season. ... I’m very grateful that I am able to run this indoor season. I was very ambitious, I set a lot of goals for myself in rehab.”

Neither Evtimov nor Red Raiders coach Jason Monson are surprised Amin is back running strong.

“She is such a hard worker,” Evtimov said. “She was so determined after that night she was going to get back. She was going to work for it and get better and recover and be back better than ever.

“She was definitely nervous coming into Saturday, it being her first meet. I was on the side, I couldn’t even watch. She did amazing, first race back she got through the hurdles. It’s very good to see her back on the track, I’m really excited for her.”

Huntley's Class 3A girls track and field state champions, showing off their state title rings: (from left) Ally Panzloff,  Breanna Burak, Vicky Evtimov, Dominique Johnson, K'Leigh Saenz, Brittney Burak, Sophie Amin, Alex Johnson, Sienna Robertson, Abbie Williams and Addison Busam.

On top of all that anticipation, Amin’s heat had a false start, so she had to deal with that before she won.

“Her nickname is ‘The Gamer,’” Monson said. “She always shows up and has that intensity. On Saturday, watching her focus. (The false start) had to have been nerve-racking, but she’s such a competitor, you knew she was going to do everything she needed to do to get back as soon as she could.”

Amin was leading Prairie Ridge’s Rylee Lydon in the 100-meter high hurdles sectional race when her lead (Ieft) leg grazed the hurdle, which threw her body off. She slammed her left leg into the track on the side of her foot, grotesquely bending the ankle.

After 10 minutes on the track, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and her foot was reset into its proper place. There were tears in ligaments and some nerve damage, but no fractures. No surgery was required.

For about two months, Amin could not do a lot other than upper body weight lifting. Eventually, she started physical therapy, and then got back to training. Amin felt like she was back at 100% about two months ago.

Amin visited colleges in Colorado and North and South Carolina before finding the spot where it “all kind of clicked” in Vermillion with the Coyotes.

“(The injury) didn’t hurt (recruiting) that much,” she said. “It worked out well from where I ended last year.”

Amin’s teammates ached for her not being able to compete at state. She had qualified in the sectional with the 4x100 team and would have been a strong medal possibility in the high hurdles.

At the Red Raiders’ state ring ceremony in August, Amin was one of the 12 girls receiving rings.

“She’s my best friend. We are so close. We’ve been best friends since sophomore year,” Evtimov said. “Having to continue that (sectional) and run without her, it was definitely difficult. It was so difficult seeing her injured and missing out on state in such a big … it made history for our school with a state championship. She put so much work into the season and so much toward the team.”

Monson could only smile when Amin was back on the track for the Huntley Indoor Invitational.

“A pretty incredible recovery,” he said. “It had to be hard for a girl who is so used to competing year-round and doing summer track. It had to be mentally challenging for her, which is why it was so nice to see her get out there.”